Marketing Secrets You Can Learn From the Movie 'Office Space' Learn how to sell to prospects who say they don't have a need.

By David Walter

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Twentieth Century Fox

If you are a fan of the movie Office Space, then as soon as you read the word "printer", I know it will conjure up the vision of the motley crew at Initech ritualized destruction of the infamous printer.

One question that has perplexed me for years since I saw this film is: Why didn't the brilliant management team at Initech solve this problem by just buying new printers? While this question might not seem relevant, this riddle can unlock the holy grail of sales challenges.

The vast majority of businesses on your marketing list will shoot you down as soon as you make contact by saying they are happy with what they have or do not have a need. This simple truth makes the task of finding qualified prospects as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack.

1. The problem of focus

The simple answer as to why Initech micromanagers did not buy new printers is that they were not focused on that problem. We could assume that the management team might not even have been aware of the issue with the printers. This is most likely what happened, since it was clear that executives like Bill Lumberg were tone-deaf to the staff.

It is clear by watching the movie that the managers were more focused on trying to squeeze as much productivity out of their employees as possible. They suffered from the misguided idea that micromanaging their staff with corporate red tape like the TPS report could increase productivity by force.

This is obvious in the film because these executives had contacted a process management consultant to accomplish that very goal. Ironically, these experts started to realize that the management team itself might be the broken piece, slowing productivity.

It does not take a stretch of the imagination to realize the idea of selling Initech new printers with traditional methods is laughable.

Related: 5 Cold-Calling Myths That Keep Businesses in the Matrix

2. The marketing conundrum solved

The holy grail marketing solution in this situation is to realize the prospect — in this case, Initech — is not focused on what you are selling nor the traditional benefits of the product. You need to discover what problem corporate leadership is currently focused on solving. The answer to this question for Initech is getting increased productivity from their workforce.

Now you need to think creatively and try to figure out how marketing your product or service can indirectly have a major impact on the problem management is currently focused on solving.

Related: How to Get Over the Most Challenging Part of Cold Calling

3. The application

Why didn't Initech decide to buy new printers? This action might not have been on the management's radar because they saw no way that buying a single printer could impact productivity gains beyond their wildest imaginations.

However, new printers could have an exponential impact on the team's morale and the belief that Initech is willing to invest in their staff. This investment might even trigger Peter Gibbons, leader of corporate descent at this organization, to rethink his conclusion about how soul-crushing it feels working there.

In fact, Michael Bolton's evangelism towards the new printers would be so pervasive that it could trigger increased productivity. The entire staff would be grateful for the management's brilliant move, which would boost morale and loyalty.

You can dramatically close more marketing deals by connecting the non-obvious benefits of your product or services to whatever problem your prospect is focused on.

Related: 3 Prospecting Lessons You Can Learn From the Devil

Wavy Line
David Walter

Author, Speaker and Sales Training

David Walter is an author, speaker and sales trainer. His claim to fame came from a cold-calling hot streak, during which he set 15 appointments a day for six months straight. He later ran a marketing call center, helping companies make millions. His book is a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon.

Editor's Pick

A Leader's Most Powerful Tool Is Executive Capital. Here's What It Is — and How to Earn It.
One Man's Casual Side Hustle Became an International Phenomenon — And It's on Track to See $15 Million in Revenue This Year
3 Reasons to Keep Posting on LinkedIn, Even If Nobody Is Engaging With You
Why a Strong Chief Financial Officer Is Crucial for Your Franchise — and What to Look for When Hiring One

Related Topics

Business News

Bankrupt Wine Company Owes Millions In Bottles, Customers Left Wondering What Went Wrong and Where the Wine Went

Underground Cellar aimed to revolutionize how wine enthusiasts purchased and stored wine. However, the company's abrupt shutdown has customers seething with questions — and anger — about millions of dollars owed in wine.

Business News

The Virgin Islands Want to Serve Elon Musk a Subpoena, But They Can't Find Him

Government officials would like to talk to Tesla's owner as part of an investigation into the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Starting a Business

5 Tips For Launching a Business While Keeping Your Day Job

Launching a business while holding down a 9-to-5 is no small feat. It's a common path for aspiring entrepreneurs, but it's not without its challenges.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.

Growing a Business

This Stock Screener is on Sale for Memorial Day

invest while mitigating risk with this top-rated stock screening app.